Grilled Barbecue Duck Breast

There's a very simple trick to making sure that your grilled barbecue duck breast is supremely moist and wonderfully crispy skin.

See how crispy the skin is on this barbecue duck breast

You can see in the picture above that the skin is beautifully brown and crisp.

The secret is in the way the duck breast is cooked and that is to cook it skin side to the heat because this removes a lot of the fat and at the same time gently cooks the meat.

I've just turned the breast over having cooked it for the most part skin side down so all I'm doing now is to gently cook the last remaining bit on the flesh side.

Doing it this way gives you that extra control because you can just about see when the whole breast is cooked through.

That said it can be a trial at the start of the cookout because cooking skin side down in the first instance is going to mobilise serious amounts of fat and dripping fat onto searing heat is a recipe for flames particularly on a charcoal barbie.

So if using charcoal, really give it plenty of time for your fire to settle before cooking and start with the duck on a higher level cooking grate. From lighting the charcoal I normally give my grill about 45 minutes before starting to cook but it really does depend on your grill, the amount of wind etc. Ultimately you guide should be when all the charcoal has turned from black to grey.

Duck is strong in flavour and is complimented well by sharp citrus flavours which cut through the strong flavoured duck. In this recipe I've chosen the pair it with damson jam sauce.

Preparation Time:- 5 mins
Cooking Time:- 45 mins

Total Time:- 50 mins

Back to this grilled barbecue duck breast recipe, can you get a more simple set of ingredients than this?


  • Duck breasts
  • Salt and pepper


Lay the duck breasts on a board skin side up and score the skin with a sharp knife taking care not to cut through the fat layer into the flesh. This way you’ll let the fat drip out but the duck meat will remain protected from drying out.

Season well with salt and pepper and then lay the breasts on the grill high above the coals. Just let them be and let the fat drip out, 90% of the cooking time should be with the skin side directed to the heat and the final 10% flipped over just to seal in the juices.

Once the fat is starting to drip onto the coals you'll get an idea for whether you're going to get a flare up so keep an eye in things and check how well the skin is browning. It's best to cook slower and longer and then once much of the fat has melted you can the move the duck breast closer to the coals in order to crisp the skin.

The cooking time is really down to how thick the meat is, how much fat there is under the skin and how you like it cooked. I like it a little pink inside so for an average sized duck breast (like those in the picture) I would cook very gently for about 45 minutes. When you are cooking skin side down, keep an eye on the flesh and see how it changes color as it cooks.

Watch that color change rise up through the meat and turn when it almost reaches the top, that way you'll have beautifully cooked duck without a hint of dryness.

To test the done-ness of the duck breast, press it with your finger – it should be firm but still springy to the touch but an instant read temperature probe never lies...the perfect core temperature for pink duck is 52°C (125°F).

To serve, slice the grilled barbecue duck breast generously and pour over some of my wife’s wonderful damson jam sauce.

Some potatoes in creme fraiche and a salad side is perfect.

See Also:-

More BBQ Duck Recipes
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BBQ Grill Islands
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